Mumbai: In May 2018, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 143 advertisements out of the total of 260 advertisements that were evaluated by the CCC. Of these 143 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 42 belonged to the healthcare sector, 61 to the education sector, 15 to the food & beverages category, 10 to the personal care and 15 were from the ‘others’ category.
Under the education sector out of the 61 advertisements that were upheld, Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd’ Bennett University advertisement that claimed “Leading Change for 175+ years 1838‐2017” was also upheld as it was appearing without a clear link and reference to the Times of India Group is misleading by ambiguity and implication.
The advertisements of other prominent brands that was upheld includes Cola brands, Colgate, HUL’s Pure Derm Anti Dandruff Shampoo, Marico, Byju’s, Quaker Oats, Dabur Honey, Tata Rock Salt, Lux Venus Innerwear, Whirlpool 3D Inverter AC, KAFF Appliances , Reckitt Benckiser ‘s Mortein Insta Tulsi, Kidzee Pre School,Jyothy Laboratories ,Dr. Batra’s Homeopathic Clinic, Lotus Herbals, Van Heusen Anti‐Bacterial Innerwear, Scotch Brite Antibacterial Scrub Pad, Pommys Garments amongst many.
A total of 140 advertisements were picked up by ASCI ’s suo moto surveillance, wherein 33 cases were informally resolved as advertisements were voluntarily withdrawn and objections against 106 advertisements were upheld. Of the 120 advertisements complained against by the general public or by industry members, 17 cases were informally resolved wherein the advertisements were voluntarily withdrawn and complaints against 37 advertisements were upheld by the CCC.
The most common reason for upholding complaints was an exaggeration of product efficacy. This was followed by violations of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act (DMR Act) and the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Rules and advertisements which contravened various ASCI guidelines. The other reasons included providing facts and figures which were inadequate to substantiate claims, improper use of the FSSAI logo, exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge, claims which were misleading by ambiguity or by implication.
Among the various complaints against advertisements, the CCC observed that celebrities endorsed unsafe practices as seen in case of prominent beverage companies and for a mosquito repellent product. Such depiction may influence minors to emulate such acts. Celebrities also endorsed misleading claims in the product category of hair oil, shampoo, innerwear and audio speakers. These advertisements contravened ASCI Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. Advertisements by a well- known homeopathy practitioner were misleading exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge and are likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
“ASCI is working closely with various Government bodies to establish an effective and transparent self‐ regulation code for the advertising industry, which upholds the highest professional and ethical standards. ASCI prides itself on its impressive track record of effectively and expeditiously disposing of consumer complaints against misleading advertisements, thereby giving form to the rights conferred upon consumers to protect them from deceptive advertisements.” said Abanti Sankaranarayanan, Chairman, ASCI